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The fear of digital transformation: Live from Microsoft Decoded

Tue 31 Oct 2017

Digital transformation in the UK is being held back by fear of change, according to the results of a study from Microsoft.

The Creating a Culture of Digital Transformation report, carried out by Microsoft, Goldsmiths University, and YouGov, looked at the way in which digital transformation efforts within businesses progress, and found that the ‘human factor’ is the major stumbling block.

The study found that 61% of employees feel anxious about the introduction of new technologies, digital transformation initiatives cause a fear of change in 49% of polled employees, and 59% have concerns about job security due to automation.

In spite of these numbers, only 23% of businesses polled said they were carrying out ‘cultural change programs’, that could help to alleviate these fears in the face of technological advances.

Speaking at Microsoft Decoded in London, Microsoft devices VP Panos Panoy commented on the relationship between technological change and cultural change. “It’s about more than the technology, it’s about how people are working. People are your most valuable asset.

“At the core of the modern workplace, is this idea of bringing creativity, teamwork, simplicity and security altogether, creating an entirely new culture of work. The data, the AI, the ML, it’s so powerful, but at the end of the day, it’s the ingenuity of the people in your business that will make the difference.”

Microsoft clearly takes the idea of digital transformation seriously. In its study, it found that only 53% of organisations are carrying out programmes to introduce digital transformation, despite expectations from the same organisations that the industry will be disrupted.

According to Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft GSMO executive VP and president, that lack of action could be problematic. “Digitalisation is going across every industry on the planet. Businesses need to disrupt before they become disrupted themselves – that’s just a fact.”

Looking at how to successfully affect a culture change, Stanford University professor of psychology, Carol Dweck, commented: “It’s vital to shift the ethos from being outcompeted or sub-genius in a genius culture, to the idea of a shared struggle where mistakes are inevitable and your team members and company have got your back.”

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